James Viscount Severn is celebrating his 13th birthday today. He is the only son of Prince Edward and Sophie Countess of Wessex. James is also the youngest grandchild of the Queen and Prince Philip, he is just four years older than the Queen’s oldest great-grandchild Savannah Phillips. But where did James Viscount Severn’s title come from and why is he not a prince?
James Viscount Severn was born James Alexander Philip Theo Mountbatten-Windsor, Viscount Severn in 2007.
He is the only son of Prince Edward and Sophie Countess of Wessex who were married in 1999.
The couple also share a daughter, Lady Louise Windsor, born in 2003.
James is currently 12th in the line of succession, but next year will drop to 13th after his cousin Princess Eugenie gives birth to her first child.
His cousin Zara Tindall is also pregnant with her third child due in 2021, but due to the rules of male primogeniture, Princess Anne and her descendants rank below Prince Edward and his family on the line of succession.
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When the Wessex couple were married, they requested their children not be given HRH titles.
Both Lady Louise and James Viscount Severn were instead styled as children of an Earl.
By rights of his birth, both the Wessex children were entitled to use HRH titles like their cousins: Prince William, Prince Harry, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie.
However, in a similar vein to Princess Anne’s children, Peter Philips and Zara Tindall, they do not use HRH titles.
Therefore, James uses the Viscount title instead of the prince title.
This viscount title is the fourth rank in the British peerage system, standing below an earl and above a baron.
Across the UK, there are approximately 270 viscountcies – most of which inherited the title.
This title may relate to a place name, surname or a combination of the two.
Viscounts are typically referred to with the title of lord.
As the son of Prince Edward, he will one day inherit his father’s Earldom.
It is also expected Prince Edward will inherit the Duke of Edinburgh’s title upon his death.
This means it is possible James will one day inherit this dukedom as well.
James’ current title also includes the name Severn which is given in honour of his mother’s history.
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The River Severn is the longest river in the UK rising in mid-Wales before flowing through Shropshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire.
This location relates to Sophie’s connection to Wales.
Sophie Countess of Wessex also has royal ancestry as a descendant of Henry II of France.
She also has both Welsh and Scottish ancestry.
She was born Sophie Helen Rhys-Jones and is related to the family of the Viscounts Molesworth.